Education Minister Costas Kadis announced on Monday he would present to cabinet on Wednesday his ministry’s proposal to hire an extra 200 teachers for primary and secondary education to meet staffing needs in public schools.
But Kadis’ announcement was not well received by secondary education teachers’ union Oelmek which has threatened strike action because the majority of the extra posts have gone to primary schools.
The union’s head Demetris Taliadoros criticised Kadis for giving “the lion’s share” to primary schools simply because their union, Poed, had been blackmailing him with strike threats.
Of the 200 new teaching positions Taliadoros told CyBC, Oelmek was getting only 23.
“Because they were threatening (Poed) they got the lion’s share… those who participate in dialogue instead (Oelmek), are being punished,” he said.
He added that the ministry’s move to discontinue the literacy programme which aims to help pupils with low literacy skills through enhanced teaching hours, saved the ministry a number of teaching positions.
The education ministry decided to transfer these classes to the afternoon, outside school hours.
Kadis said that with the new hiring, public schools would be fully staffed and that anything more would only be serving union interests as student enrolment had dropped.
“The data is clear. This year we have 400 fewer (secondary education) students. One would expect that there would be a reduction (of teaching staff), instead there will be an increase,” Kadis said.
Commenting on whether he had been influenced by Poed’s strike threats, Kadis said that the ministry proposal was based on “real data” and not on union interests.
He added that what Oelmek wanted to bring back the literacy programme, even though it had been unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, the parents’ association criticised both the education ministry and Oelmek for the programme’s failure. The group’s chairman Petros Koulermos said that for years schools had been appointing ineffective teachers so they were out of the way. This meant the programme was never going to work effectiviely.